These are the Hands...

There is something fascinating about the hands of an infant. This is especially true when they reach up and grasp the outstretched fingers of an admiring adult stranger. Through her hands, the baby, who will not be able to speak for many months is able from her earliest days, to express one of our most deeply rooted needs. The need to belong, to touch and to be touched. Through her outstretched hands the baby instinctively says, "I want to be part of you, I want to be cherished by you."

Most of us find it easy to respond to this plea and we do so eagerly. Taking a little bundle of human life into our arms seems to have the effect of softening even the hardest among us.

Why is it that we are so ready to love and be loved by an infant? Is it because of the absolute innocence of babyhood? Is it because of the delicate helplessness which characterizes new life? Is it because we love that which is fresh and new? Perhaps all of these factors have a part to play, but I think that it is also a matter of our being drawn toward a "love" experience which, though legitimate, demands very little from us. In other words, it is easy to love an infant. It is nice to casually hold and be held by a little hand without any formal commitment. It makes us feel good. It is a "here and now" experience without any strings attached.

And so we delight in the Feast of Christmas. We kneel at the crib and wish that we could pick up the infant. Hold Him. Love Him.

My dear friends: sometime during the Christmas season go to the crib and kneel for a moment in silent prayer. Meditate upon the mystery of God's loving patience and then look at those outstretched hands that seemingly demand so little. They are the same hands, which, before being folded in death, demanded a great deal!

They are the hands that demanded holy silence from nature itself as they were raised over the storm tossed waters of Galilee. They are the hands which when placed upon blind eyes, deaf ears and withered limbs brought sight, hearing and movement. Even life itself. They are the hands which held and offered the first Sacred Host..."Take and eat, for this is my body..." They are the hands which clasped together in prayer as He prayed for us that we may find our unity in Him. They are the hands which when fastened to a cross, embraced the whole body of humanity, past, present and future in one supreme blessing.

By all means take the outstretched hand of the infant Saviour into your hands. But as His hand grows larger and His grip grows stronger and the wood of the crib becomes the wood of the cross, do not withdraw your hand as though seeking a less demanding object for your love. Rather, tighten your grip and savour the unimaginable peace and joy which comes with total commitment, not just seasonal flirtation, but total commitment, to the eternal Son of God.

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